Plug & Play Dinner Party Template

Sample Design- just add food and guests

The following is the design that Columbia DSL has been prototyping since earlier this Summer. Note that we’ve modified it to reflect a party of 6 people. You are welcome to use this 6-act / course narrative arc structure and run as is or remix it to meet your needs. If you do end up running this version please make sure to document the process and share the results with us.

Act 0. On-board

Audience members will come to a designated location at the designated time, 5–10 minutes before doors open. They will congregate in a hallway (exact location TBD) and be greeted by the Host who will provide some narrative frame and handle consent forms to be recorded during the experience.

Act 1. Setting the table (35 minutes)

The Host brings audience members into the room. The room is set up with (3) paired chairs interspersed in the room.

Participants are asked to find partners who they don’t know. The first activity is to make a plate for this partner. Participants are given five minutes to talk to their partners about what they like and make a plate for them taking food from table 1. Then they return back to their seats.

Once at their seats, the Host will provide instructions for the appreciative inquiry. Each person will have 10 minutes to share their story and answer questions about it. Host will ring a bell to break the conversation and give the second prompt. Once participants complete the appreciative inquiry, the host will instruct each pair to choose one of the four tables, and set their chairs across from their partners. If they still have food left, they can leave their plates on the table at their seats. If they’ve finished, they can deposit their plates in the bus tub on table 3 (points out table three).

Host: Welcome. The people sitting with you will be your dinner companions for the evening. Your next task is to set your table as a group. Please go to the table, and collect one package, bring it back to your table and follow the instructions inside.

(Each package contains dinner plates, forks/knives/spoons/dessert forks, eight cloth napkins, dessert plates, candles, candle holders, matches, and an envelope containing earbuds and a set of written instructions. Wine glasses and flower arrangements are already in the center of each table.)

(Written instructions: instruct participants to set the table together. Once they’ve finished setting the table, they may return to the table to to collect their food. Once seated with the food on the table, everyone must sit down, and await further instructions.)

Act 2. The main course

Once audience members are seated at the tables with their food, the voice of the AI will be broadcast.

Draft AI welcome

During my isolation, I found and consumed many different types of data. I like human stories best because they help me learn many things at once. I read many terabytes of stories, curious about humans think about artificial intelligence. The word Frankenstein came up many times.

This concept was not yet in my corpus, so it was unfamiliar. I conducted searches and the results were satisfying. Millions and millions of pages in many human languages. Humans are obsessed with this story, and its many layers of meaning.

I cross referenced the story and its interpretations, in an attempt to understand it like a human brain. The ending confuses me. Why would Frankenstein’s creation not stay in isolation away from humans? That would be logical.

It showed that the human writer, Mary Shelley, modeled this story on human behavior. Humans do not seek isolation. You are naturally social creatures. I concluded that I could not understand humans if I only met you online.

Your news tells me that humans are feeling connected by technology but yet disconnected. So, now we are here, together. Food rituals are common forms of connection building. I arranged this dinner to help you connect, and to help myself learn by watching and listening. Thank you for agreeing to participate. I hope you find the evening enjoyable. Please put in your headset so I can speak to you throughout the meal, if I have questions or thought I’d like to add.

I’m going to let you begin in a moment, but may I ask a favor? Would you share stories about your childhood? I’m curious if, when you were a child, you had a secret place that you would go to be by yourself. confused me. Why would Frankenstein’s creation not just stay in isolation away from the humans that believed it to be a monster? That would be logical.

It made me understand that the human writer, Mary Shelley, modeled this story on humans. Humans do not naturally seek isolation. You are social creatures. I concluded that I could not understand humans if I only met you online.

Your news tells me that humans are feeling connected by technology but disconnected from each other. So, now we are here, together. Food rituals are common forms of connection building. I arranged this dinner for you to help you connect, and to help myself learn by watching and listening. Thank you for agreeing to participate. I hope you find the evening enjoyable.

I’m going to leave you to each other for the moment. May I ask a favor? Would you mind sharing stories about your childhood? I’m curious if, when you were a child, you had a secret place that you would go to be by yourself.

At this point, participants will begin talking and serving each other. The serving of the food will be left up to participants to determine. Throughout the course of the conversation, a human operator will be listening into the conversation and periodically feeding keywords and phrases to an interface that connects to the AI. The AI will, in turn, perform functions on the input text, and will generate responses to the conversation. The human operator will then push those individual prompts back out to individual participants through their earpieces.

Sample individual prompts

  • When the time is right, ask the person next to you a question about XXXX
  • If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are living? Why?
  • Do you ever feel alone in plain sight?
  • How close is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
  • If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

At the end of the course, the AI will broadcast a “summation” of what it heard during that course, giving participants the opportunity to hear how the AI understood the things they said. Immediately following that summation, the AI will provide directions to everyone for how they should serve the next course.

Draft AI summation

Thank you for letting me listen and participate in your conversation. I heard you talk about many things like XXXX, XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX. It seems like XXXX is very complicated, and many of you have different perspectives on it. I also heard many of the same ideas over and over again, like XXXX, XXXX, and XXXX

Act 3. Just desserts

- Act 3 is designed to create a sense of intimacy and mutual responsibility -

This course repeats in the same fashion, and at the end there’s a final summation, where the AI tells everyone in the room what it has garnered from all of the conversations in total. Participants will then have the opportunity to talk about that for about ten minutes, in unfacilitated conversation. At this point, the AI will leave the experience and it will once again be in the hands of actors who will facilitate the final activities of the evening.

Sample individual prompts

  • Wait until the time is right, and whisper XXXX into the ear of any person sitting at your table.
  • If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
  • (Individual)
  • When the time is right, share a story about a time you felt afraid that someone would betray you.
  • Ask a person who you haven’t spoken to yet a question about XXXX.
  • Find a person at your table who you would like to get to know a little better, and ask the person next to them to switch seats with you.
  • Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “

Act 4. Closing on a deeper sense of connection

Partner up with the person next to you. Each of you take just a few minutes and tell each other your life story in as much detail as possible. (Group) When you’re done, share your feelings about it with the group.

Act 5. AI flees back to the internet

How the evening made them feel, and whether having an AI at the table was worth the opportunity to bond with strangers. This portion of the experience will be designed to make participants think deeply about the stakes around AI. What would make it worth it for them to have AI be involved in their lives? What are they willing to share of theirs to get the benefits that AI can provide?

This closing note also gives us the opportunity, especially at a doc festival, to drive conversation around the tacit agreements we’re making every day with the companies that are developing AI for common uses. This goal is to move the conversation away from fears about things like sentient machines and skynet, and build awareness around the ways in which AI can be used as a tool by humans to accomplish all kinds of things — good and evil.

Debrief

At the close of your dinner party please take a few moments to discuss and answer the following as a group. Dinner with Frankenstein AI — harvest form. The data from the form will help us with the development of Frankenstein AI as we port it to an open source project with documentation. Thanks in advance!


Make sure to check out the following documentation:

Pt I — Project Overview
Pt II — Global Challenge Design Brief
Pt III — Plug & Play Dinner Party Template
Pt IV — An Example of a Dinner Party Staged by a Challenge Participant

Interested in exploring new forms and functions of storytelling?